Deployed Sailors and Marines are just like any other ordinary individuals when it comes to communicating with their families. They, too, use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with their loved ones – the only difference, they don’t go a day without being reminded of the benefits and risks of the communication environment of today.
Lt. Theresa Donnelly, director for public affairs social media at U.S. Pacific Command, shares “You can protect yourself by disabling functions on social media, such as geotagging, which pinpoints your location. Should you be in a classified location, for the safety of your command, this information must be protected.”
Although Navy officials agree that the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites have provided opportunities to build relationships with the wider Navy family and supporters all around the region, it remains of utmost importance for both servicemembers and their families to consider the risks and vulnerabilities in personal and command activities by practicing operation security (OPSEC).
The CHINFO’s Navy Ombudsman Social Media Handbook provided a few tips to be aware of, such as to:
• Protect your families by limiting, to the extent practical, detailed information about them (such as addresses, towns or schools).
• Understand profile security settings so you can make informed choices about who sees what on your profile.
• Keep sensitive information safe. Do not discuss sensitive information such as ship/unit movements in advance, personnel rosters, training or deployment schedules, or anything else that may compromise the personal privacy of the crew and their families and the command’s mission.
• Educate families about online OPSEC
“Social media networks are extremely important to our communication efforts, and that’s particularly true during a crisis. We witnessed the benefit of social media firsthand last year in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as family members in particular turned to the social networks for information and to communicate with both military organizations and their neighbors,” said Chuck Bell, emerging media director at U.S. Pacific Fleet.